Archive for Rated PG-13

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PodCastle 619: The Tale of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Tale of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle

By Sofia Samatar

This story is at least a thousand years old. Its complete title is “The Tale of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle: It Contains Strange and Marvelous Things.” A single copy, probably produced in Egypt or Syria, survives in Istanbul; the first English translation appeared in 2015. This is not the right way to start a fairy tale, but it’s better than sitting here in silence waiting for Mahliya, who takes forever to get ready. She’s upstairs staining her cheeks with antimony, her lips with a lipstick called Black Sauce. Vainest crone in Cairo.

She leaves her window open for the birds to fly in and out. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the bigger ones thump their wings against the sash. The most famous, of course, is the flying featherless ostrich. A monstrous creature, like something boiled. Mahliya adores it. She lets it eat out of her mouth. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 618: Odd and Ugly

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Odd and Ugly

By Vida Cruz

I.

You come to my tree at high noon in July, sweating, panting, young. So very, very young. I can’t help staring at you: it’s like watching a walking, talking circular window with square glass stuck through it. I knew you’d come someday, but I’m still so stunned to see you that I disbelieve my own eyes. The small sack in one hand and the clay jar at your hip tell me that you mean to stay, too.

“Are you the kapre from the stories? The one with the shell necklace?” you ask, your voice high and clear. You set your jar down and gather your long, sweat-dampened black hair over your shoulder, away from your nape, as you glance up from under your straw salakot. Your eyes are the color of tablea chocolate bubbling in a cup. I’m startled that I remember so human a sensation. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 616: DOUBLE FEATURE! Telomerase; Mycelium

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Telomerase

By Ian Muneshwar

You lost your first word when I began to lose my hair.

You brought a wicker basket to the hospital and opened it in the waiting room, taking out a blue-checkered blanket that you spread out over our laps. Inside the basket there was a book of Greek myths and two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into crustless triangles, just how you used to make them when the kids were young.

I told you that this was silly, that cancer was no picnic, but you just grinned like you had set me up for that very joke.

When the needle was under my skin, the nausea starting in the pit of my stomach, you opened the book. You read Hades with a seething hiss that made the child across the room giggle; Zeus was a grand baritone that reminded me of what you were like when we first met, all blustering, billowing confidence.

After the first few tales you got up, saying you had to get something. Your lips tried to form the last word, to tell me what it was, but you couldn’t make the sound. I asked you to spell it out, to write it down, but the word was gone completely, even its roots burned out of your memory.

You came back with tea in one of the hospital’s Styrofoam cups. You pointed at it and tried to summon the word again; your thin lips parting, the tip of your tongue pressed to the roof of your mouth.

Tea, I said. Hot tea.

Shaking your head, you picked up the book and started where we had left off. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 614: White Noon

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


White Noon

By Aidan Doyle

The dogs’ barking let me know I had visitors. I reluctantly left my chair by the fire, pulled on my boots, and took my thundergun from its place on the wall. I rarely had any visitors apart from Magnus, which was how the dogs and I liked it.

When I opened the cabin door, the sun’s brightness made me squint. The sky was bluer than a husky’s eyes. Most folks enjoyed summer’s months of continual sunlight, but I preferred the peace of winter’s darkness. Nobody but a lover expects things of you when it’s dark.

I walked across the crisp snow, my breath appearing as a mist in front of me. A ten-dog team pulling a sled with two people in it drew to a halt outside my cabin. The two figures stepped off the sled, one of them crouching down to check the dogs and the other striding towards me. I recognized Kristin’s loping gait before I could make out her face. She always looked as though she was in a hurry to reach tomorrow. It had been years since I’d seen my sisters.

Kristin wore a heavy coat with wanted posters stitched onto it. All of the villains had their faces crossed out. A pair of silver thunderguns rested in holsters by her side.

“It’s a fine day for sledding,” Kristin said. Her tone suggested that only the most inglorious of cowards would disagree.

“Fine day for staying warm,” I replied. (Continue Reading…)